Economy
8:31 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

New Loan Program To Spur Downtown Retail

Pittsburgh has space in historic downtown buildings, but not enough retail to fill it. A new loan program propelled by the city hopes to change that.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation today announced the launch of a new loan initiative that hopes to spur more retail ventures and further the economic growth of the Golden Triangle.

Ravenstahl said every great American city needs a strong urban core.

“We’re a city of neighborhoods and always will be,” the Mayor said. “But in an effort to strengthen that and enhance that, you have to have a downtown that’s vibrant, and that’s been our focus for over six years.”

He also said downtown is starting to change.

“There has been a mindset previously that Downtown is a center for business, and downtown is open from 9 am to 5 pm,” Ravenstahl said. “But that’s not the case anymore. If you go into Downtown in the evenings, you see a vibrant city—I was in Market Square last night. Restaraunts were full, people were out and about, and that’s changing.”

Funding for the new program will come from a $500,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation. The loan program will provide low-interest financing to building owners and first floor retail tenants for potentially costly improvements and renovations related to historic building facades, storefronts, and interior spaces. Loans will range from $5,000 to $30,000.

“A lot of these property owners previously didn’t see a need to invest, didn’t see an incentive to invest,” he said. “Now when they walk outside their front door and see PNC doing a $400 million skyscraper, they’re starting to realize that they have an opportunity to grow.”

Applications for funding are now available.